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New Seasons is the latest large employer to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees

Employees have until March 17 to complete their vaccination series. New Seasons said it will allow employees to seek an exemption.
Credit: New Seasons Market

PORTLAND, Ore. — New Seasons Market is requiring employees at its Oregon and Washington stores to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

The requirement also applies to the Store Support office in Southeast Portland, said Kim Rodgers, New Seasons’ director of communications.

"The health and safety of our staff and customers continue to be our top priority," Rodgers said in an email. "The transmissibility of the Omicron variant is causing a steep increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases within our staff population and our communities, and we believe a vaccine requirement is the right thing to do to keep our staff and customers safe and control virus."

New Seasons has 2,831 staffers across 18 stores and the support office in the Portland metro.

Employees have until March 17 to complete their vaccination series.

On its website, New Seasons states that it will provide an opportunity for staff to request a vaccination exemption "due to a medical condition, disability, or sincerely-held religious belief, practice or observance." Staff who receive exemptions will be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19 and wear face masks at all times while they're at work.

Read the full story at the Portland Business Journal.

RELATED: VERIFY: Is it legal in Oregon for employers to require employees to be vaccinated?

In Oregon, employers have a legal right to mandate vaccinations, though employees are entitled to seek medical, religious or philosophical exemptions from vaccination. All states allow medical exemptions, but Oregon is one of 15 states that also allows philosophical exemptions — which are based on personal beliefs about vaccines — and religious exemptions.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as long as it isn’t discriminatory against specific groups of people.

RELATED: Yes, employers can still require employees to get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 after Supreme Court ruling

VIDEO: New Seasons Market requiring customers, vendors to wear face coverings (video from April 2020)